Every year, biofouling is estimated to add $60-100 billion to commercial shipping costs. This includes increased fuel-consumption, drydocking costs, remedial measures and revenue lost due to regular maintenance and downtime.
On hard surfaces in contact with raw seawater, the biofouling process can start in as little as 15 minutes. It starts with the settlement and build-up of slime and soon progresses to algae, weeds and then molluscs.
When marine fouling grows on the outside of a ship's hull, hydrodynamic drag increases which causes fuel consumption to rise. On the inside of a vessel, marine fouling will reduce cooling water flow and lead to major equipment failure if left unchecked.
On offshore structures like oil rigs and wind turbines, marine fouling will increase weight and hydrodynamic loading. Marine fouling will also account for around 30% of lifecycle corrosion in marine structures.